I just installed this HU and am still spending time getting to know it. Before I purchased this unit, I searched the web looking for reviews or first hand impressions. There was little information to be found so hopefully this review will help people that might be considering this model.
My setup: I replaced an older Alpine 9807 with the Kenwood. I'm using the front pre-outs to a 150w/ch US Accoustics amp to Boston Pro60 6.5" components and the X993's internal amp is driving a small pair of 4" Polks at a very low volume for rear fill. Not currently using a sub.
Sound Quality: Because I'm using an external amp, SQ differences between the Alpine and the X993 are directly related to the difference in the electronics and EQ/DSP options, not the internal amp. After completing setup (Cabin selection, Speaker location/size, Time alignment, Crossovers/slope), I started playing around with EQ and other sound control settings. What I ended up with, is a sound much warmer than the Alpine. At first, I wasn't sure that I'd be happy with this as I've gotten used to the Alpine/US Accoustics combo which was a pretty hard hitting and sharp (borderline harsh) sound. But the soundstage is much bigger than the Alpine and I can hear more detail in the music. The overall sound is more accurate accurate and realistic. Time will tell if I miss the "snap" of the Alpine, but right now, I'm really enjoying this new sound.
Interestingly, the US Accoustics amp replaced an Arc Audio model (125w/ch) because the Alpine/Arc combo was a little too sharp for my ears. I think I'll swap out the USA with the Arc and see what kind of sound I get. It might be the perfect match.
BTW, turning off the internal amp driving the rear speakers doesn’t make a noticeably difference in SQ to my BA’s.
Looks: I don't care for the lighting and the shiny face. If you don't know, this unit has illuminiation above and below the display, as well as the knob backgrounds. I can live with the display and knob lighting, but the top/bottom illum is hokey and unnecessary. It makes the unit seem toylike. I like the color control of the display and have found a color/contrast setting that very readable. Overall, the Alpine looks more "serious" than the Kenwood.
Ipod: I'm in Ipod heaven. The sound is MUCH better than the Alpine, with barely any background hiss on mp3 playback. This is the difference using the DAC of the Kenwood vs the Ipod. This surprised me because I'm used to hiss in two of my cars using an analog connection to the HU's. The X993 handles the Ipod very nicely. It’s reasonably intuitive and fast. I only have about 4Gb of music on my 1st gen Touch, but it has no problem loading, searching and playing with no delays. Having total control of my Ipod on the HU is going to be very nice.
Bluetooth: I only tested this feature a few times but pairing to my BB Storm was no problem and everything works fine. I’ve noticed that the caller’s voice quality is pretty bad, especially if you’re listening to music when the call comes in. You go from high fidelity to this AM radio type of sound. It’s fully functional and works fine, it’s just that the caller’s voice is pretty lo fi. I also noticed that the caller’s voice comes out of the woofers on my components, with no sound coming from the tweets. Because the woofers are in kickpanels, the sound comes from my feet. I might need to play around with this.
Everything else: This HU has a ton of features and I feel like I’ve only begun to get the whole thing figured out. It’s a great geek toy if you’re into that type of thing. If not, the benefits of the X993 might be lost on you. This is not an HU that you install and throw out the manual. Plan on spending quite a bit of time learning what X993 can do and don’t be surprised if you have to look up something that you had no problem doing the day before. The drawback to such a powerful deck is that it would be difficult for someone to use your car and make their way around. My wife will hate this when she goes to use my car, I can see it already.
The display is very difficult to read in direct sun. I've elaborated on this in my post below.